Surely everyone is aware by now, aren’t they?
Autism is talked about everywhere now. Most likely, even if your child doesn’t have it, someone in your child’s class or at least grade has it. Characters on tv shows and in movies have it. There’s a whole month for it and articles all over the place. We know.
So, can’t we move on from autism awareness to autism acceptance?
But, there’s a huge difference between knowing that there’s such a thing as autism and truly being aware of what it can mean.
If you have a child on the spectrum, you know, you’re aware, but we all know this month is not really for us, it’s to educate others to become autism aware, which is where we need to start if we want acceptance.
And while I want to believe there’s so much more awareness now, there’s still such a long way to go.
This past weekend, I was scrolling through Facebook when I came across a status that made me stop and stare at my screen in disbelief. The poster shared a few quirks she’d had as a child (ones that a lot of our children with autism exhibit) but that she learned to cope and didn’t expect the world to accommodate her and how disappointed she was in this generation.
It’s not that shocking to hear someone say something like this… but the person who said it: I expected more. Someone I looked up to as a mentor for years, who played a huge role in my life, who works with kids, who is well aware of the various diagnosis out there… if even she could think that way, then yes, we do still have a long way to go.
If you don’t have a child on the autism spectrum, I get that it can be really tricky to truly understand what autism is like. It’s actually tricky for autism parents, too. Because autism IS a spectrum. It doesn’t look the same in every child with the diagnosis. In fact, it can look vastly different.
There’s so much information out there and I get it: we’re all busy. So, when you come across articles about autism and it doesn’t directly affect your family, you might skip over the majority of them or even all of them.
If this is you, I understand. But I’d ask you to read some. Just a few. Become a little more aware. Because even if none of your children have autism, chances are that they’ll encounter a child with it.
And for those of us who do have a child on the spectrum, be kind to friends who seek to learn about autism. If they share an article that you don’t agree with, realize that they’re not trying to be offensive, they’re trying to show their support. If they join in with an awareness campaign run by an organization you happen to abhor, realize that they don’t know all the politics involved. They just see an awareness campaign as a positive thing and they’re trying to be supportive. They don’t have their own experiences to draw from, so they’re sharing what they see out there as their way to show they’re trying.
We can be a sensitive bunch, those of us with kids with autism. We can be very defensive when it comes to our kids: it’s the years of having to fight for what they need, that finely honed mama bear (or papa bear) instinct. But during this month, when we want to shout for acceptance for our kids and not just awareness, we need to realize there is still a need for awareness. And while it’s okay to help educate on the different issues when a friend shares information about autism that you don’t agree with, try to be gentle about it. If you slam them, they’ll stay away from anything autism-related for fear of being offensive. And that’s not going to help raise awareness.